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Old 10-12-2012, 09:06 AM   #1
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Dillon , South Carolina
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Where to start when gutting an old Airstream?

Greetings Everyone:
I need your help. I am new to this so I want to do it all right. Where should I begin when gutting an old Air Stream? I want to gut it of everything so I can remove the flooring and inspect and repair the very rusted frame. I would appreciate any and all suggestions.
Thanks everyone,
Rodney in South Carolina

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Old 10-12-2012, 10:02 AM   #2
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North Charleston , South Carolina
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Sup Rodney.
I live in Charleston and go by Dillon regularly on my way to Laurinburg. I'd love to swing by sometime to check out your trailer. I'm redoing a 74 31' Excella 500.

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Old 10-12-2012, 11:15 AM   #3
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1973 27' Overlander
reno , NV
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Hi Rodney,

You'll find an overwhelming amount of info on this forum. Best thing to do is get familiar with the SEARCH function in the upper bar. Anything, absolutely anything you need to know has pretty much been discussed here. Just for some light reading (ha), SEARCH on "full monte" and you'll find some threads covering the whole process of redoing a vintage trailer. Photo's and all.

And here's a relatively new one - and Red is just blazing through the process:

Good luck. Laura

On Edit - I just notice you've had 73 posts.... would have figured you were elbow deep in the throws of a gut job!
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:42 AM   #4
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I started at the top. I replaced the OEM Air Conditioner, replaced all three ceiling vents with FanTastic fans, removed the television antenna, replaced the sewer vent gaskets and screens, replaced all the window and door gaskets, and sealed obvious problem areas like the awning rail and the seam lap joints.

Then I removed interior attachments, repaired a small frame section, installed some new floor wood, and installed new interior built-ins and appliances.
Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:36 PM   #5
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Start with pictures, lots of pictures. Then measure most of what you just took pictures of. You'll be glad you did later on. If you are contemplating a complete shell off, frame rebuild, floor replacement full monty then just start unbolting anything that will come loose keeping notes of which order it came off so you can reverse it when it is time to reinstall. Eventually you will run out of things that can/should be removed- sooner than you think really this is actually one of the really fun parts, DEMOLITION!!
Be sure to use respiratory filters as there is usually some incredibly nasty stuff in the walls and floor thanks to friendly insects and rodents.
Don't throw away any appliances, furnishings or hardware until you are darn sure you won't be reusing them or somebody else doesnt want them. You will be amazed at how many small parts are made of the legendary Unobtainium when you try to replace them later.
BTW we would LOVE to see some of those pictures when you get a chance.
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:18 AM   #6
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Frozen , Tundra
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I second rumrunner on the Pics, Digital makes it easy. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how long will you like your re-assembly manual to be?
Also the respirators are important. I found out AFTER I removed my floor tiles they were ASBESTOS !!! I also had lots of "rodent refuse" I showered in partially eaten walnuts, feces and insulation the days I removed my belly pan and interior insulation. If your belly pan rattles like a baby rattle when you tap it BEWARE Chip n' Dale have been there ( think disney, not dirty)
Depending where the rodents are from their remnants and dropping may be as deadly as the tiles so please use due caution and be nice to your lungs.
I removed my interior from the front working to the back figuring the rear bath would never fit past everything, and yes it does all fit out the door, head scratching and helpers may be required. Use the highest quality screwdriver you can find or you just strip stubborn screws even worse. I wore out all my "lesser" tools and in the end also wore down 2 new snap-on phillips, if the screw wont come out a hammer rap on the back of the driver might help break it free.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:29 AM   #7
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In addition to lots of pics, I found it very useful to make videos with commentary. You might not remember everything in the pic or link it with your notes.

Also, I wasted a lot of time redrilling rivets when reassembling. After removing a panel that covers another (especially end caps), mark the rivets that you just removed. Then you won't have the hole blocked when you reinstall the last panels.

Finally, this thread has great links.

Good luck and plan on spending a surprising amount of time on the process.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:26 PM   #8
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Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
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Another vote for pictures! More than you think you will ever need - both before and during demo. Also, don't throw anything away. Keep it all for patterns & "go bys" for reference.

As far as actually what to tackle first, we always start with the structural things - the frame & floor, as well as making the shell sound....which means no leaks left to affect the work being completed.

Good luck, it's a lot of work - but very satisfying & rewarding when done (been there, done that, more than once!). And don't forget, take lots of pictures - pretty much overlapping shots of everything, you never know what you are going to want to have shot until months later when you are trying to put it all back together again. I can't tell you how many times we referred back to our photos both for ourselves & others.

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Old 12-29-2012, 04:44 PM   #9
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You didn't say if you had indoor work space, would make a big difference to have it weather proofed before the rebuild stage, determine ceiling joists and wall studs are sound, after framing and floor are back in then a/c would go in.

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